It’s a nice summer day and you go to sit in your favorite chair in the yard to enjoy your morning coffee. All of a sudden, the chair you are in starts sinking in the ground! You look down and your feet are surrounded by water! It hasn’t rained in a week and the sprinklers don’t produce this much water. What could be happening? It sounds like there is a leak or break in the Polyvinyl Chloride pipes or (PVC).
This type of piping material is commonly used in the yard as drain, vent, and waste piping. Even though they are known for their durability, they can leak or break. Are you wondering how to repair PVC pipe in the ground? There are a few ways: Using fiberglass resin tape or cloth, tape made of rubber and silicone, epoxy, hose clamps and rubber tape, or just by replacing the pipe.
Let’s take a look at why you need to know how to repair PVC pipe in the ground. finding the leak, materials to use, before repairing or replacing, steps to do this, other areas to check, and when to call a professional.
Why You Need to Know How to Repair PVC Pipe in the Ground
As mentioned above, PVC pipe is often in the yard for drains, vents and waste piping. It doesn’t rust and is very durable. If you know how to repair PVC pipe in the ground, you can save yourself a lot of money. Some fixes may be easy and minor, while some may require replacing the pipe or contacting a professional. It will depend on how big the leak or crack is, but it is always worth trying to fix it first before replacing, if possible.
Finding the Leak
Not sure if you have a water leak underground? Here are some things to do first:
- Find the water meter – it is usually outside, on the ground near the driveway, and under a heavy lid.
- Use the shut-off valve and turn off all the water. The shut-off valve may be in the basement or front or corner of your home.
- Turn off all faucets in the home
- Mark the rim of the gauge in the water meter
- Leave shut off for 30 min and see if the needle has moved. If yes, call a home inspector to find possible areas of leaking.
Is it possible it is a problem with the sewer instead? Sure can be! If the inspector doesn’t think it is the PVC pipe, it may be a sewer issue. Thus, the inspector can use a sewer scope camera to do an inspection . If there are any thoughts it can be one or the other, an inspection is needed.
If it turns out it is an issue with the PVC pipe, you can decide to try to fix it. Here are some ways to repair or replace.
Materials to Repair or Replace the PVC Pipe in the Ground
Fiberglass Resin Tape or Cloth Can Repair PVC Pipe in the Ground
If it is a small leak, you can first try using fiberglass resin tape or cloth to fix the pipe. If you choose the tape, it will buy you some time to get the cloth or a full replacement. To do this, clean the area of the pipe first with a damp rag. Then, wrap the tape around the pipe and let it harden for 15 minutes. The tape must be wet for this to work.
Do you want something more permanent? Try using resin cloth. To do this, use sandpaper and sand the surface to create a surface that is more adhesive. Put the resin cloth over the break and cure the resin by putting it in the sun or using a UV light.
Rubber and Silicone Repair Tape
If you have a minor leak, rubber and silicone repair tape can help. Like fiberglass resin tape, rubber and silicone tape comes in a roll and it can be wrapped directly around the PVC pipe. However, instead of adhering to the pipe, the repair tape adheres directly to itself.
To fix damage to a PVC pipe, wrap the tape around where the leak is. Cover a little bit to the sides of the affected area. The compression will fix the leak, so ensure that the wrap is tight and secure before using the pipes again.
Rubber Tape and Hose Clamp
Similar to rubber and silicone repair tape, rubber tape and hose clamps also uses compression to repair small leaks in PVC pipes. However, it is a temporary fix as the tape and clamps won’t be able to do their job anymore as the leak grows. To do this, wrap rubber around the damaged area and then separate the hose clamps. Then, place the clamps around the affected area and tighten. This should slow the leak or stop it. Remember, this is only a temporary fix. I
Epoxy Can Repair PVC Pipe in the Ground
Another way to fix the PVC pipe is with epoxy. This type of epoxy is a putty or liquid that can repair leaks. Start by cleaning and drying the area and make sure water can’t get near it. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for mixing the putty or liquid. Next, apply the epoxy and give it about 10 minutes to cure. When this is done, let water into the pipe and see if there are any leaks.
Before Repairing or Replacing the PVC Pipe in the Ground
Sometimes the best thing to do – or only thing- is to replace the pipes. However, you want to make sure that you do a few things first.
- Check with a professional to see if this is necessary
- Gather your supplies together- correct size PVC pipe for replacement, hacksaw or ratchet cutter, clean cloth, PVC primer solvent, glue for PVC pipes and of course a shovel (unless the area is already exposed).
Steps to Repairing or Replacing the PVC Pipe in the Ground
- Turn off the water as mentioned at the beginning of this article
- Using a ratchet cutter or hacksaw, cut the pipe about 1 inch to the left and right of the damaged area
- Let excess water drain out and dry it with a cloth
- Dry-fit the replacement pipe in the hole and make sure the fitting of the pipe is properly secured. Here is an article that shows how to do this.
- Use PVC primer solvent and apply to the inside of the replacement pipe’s fittings and to the outside of the existing pipe.
- Then, apply glue for the PVC pipe to the existing, exposed PVC pipe and around the inside of the replacement fitting.
- Insert the existing pipe into the replacement fittings, and use a twisting motion to get the pipe to fit.
- Hold the pipe firmly for 10 seconds to ensure a strong bond as the glue dries. Let it set for 2 hours
- Turn the water main back on and test the line to ensure the sealant has set. This is also to check that there are no other leaks and run the system for 20 minutes.
- Once you have tested the line and all works well, cover it back up with the dirt.
Here is a great video that shows how to fix the PVC pipe with a small hole on your own:
If the thought of doing this on your own worries you, you can call a professional to fix it.
After you replace the pipe, take a look around the surrounding area of soil for what may have caused the damage to the pipe. Was it a tree or plant root? If yes, cut the root entirely around the piping. If possible, transplant the tree or plant to avoid future issues.
Other Areas to Check
Sprinkler System– if the sprinkler won’t turn on, this will also signal there is a leak underground or there is an issue with the well. This will depend on where the sprinkler hooks up. Take the time during maintenance to clean the sprinkler heads and replace any damaged valves.
Landscaping– water can puddle in the yard due to many things but it is important to keep it away from the home. One way to do this is by landscaping and adding bushes, plants, palm trees, or even decorative stone.
Vinyl Siding- Check the vinyl siding on the home as part of your home maintenance. You may have water issues in the yard when a pipe breaks, but if the siding is warping on the house, water will get inside the home as well. You don’t want that to happen so keep an eye on the siding. Also, if the siding is warping, bugs and other animals can get inside the home.
When to Call a Professional
Call a professional if you have water pooling in the yard and not sure what is causing it. Another reason is if you know a pipe is broken, but you aren’t sure where it is or if you can fix it yourself. Pipes are an important part of the plumbing system so unless you know what you are doing, a professional would be a better choice.
Just like we don’t want the air conditioning to go out here in Florida, we also don’t want pipes to break. However, unfortunately, it happens. Keep an eye in your yard on where you plant trees and other plants to make sure they are not growing into the pipes. Also, when you notice water starting to pool, take note of it and start researching what is causing it. Finding out earlier is better than later. Lastly, PVC pipe is very durable and a great material to use for pipes in the yard and thankfully is repairable most of the time. Waypoint Property Inspection East can inspect your pipes during a home inspection.